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September 8th, 2013

TV's Depiction of Modern Dads

While at the gym this morning, I saw an ad for a new A&E reality series, Modern Dads. It's about a group of stay-at-home dads who are in different stages in their lives and with differing types of families. What I really stood out to me is what I didn't see: a depiction of a somewhat more "typical" modern dad. (For discussion sake, we'll just blissfully ignore the true level of "reality" presented in the program.)

My beef is that they are only showing only stay-at-home dads, and while I certainly believe that it's important for society as a whole to become more accepting of men who decide to assume such a role in their family's lives, I can't help but feel that dads such a myself somehow generally don't get the credit we deserve. I do everything I can to be as involved as much as possible in Tank's life, even though, with the exception of summers, I only see him once during the middle of the week and on weekends. Given that his mother lives 40 miles from me, this is no small feat, one that requires my working a non-traditional work week and using a significant portion of my PTO from work to make the accommodations necessary for my level of involvement.

Furthermore, I am a step-dad to TeenLitGirl's two children, and while our approach is such that I play more of a support role in her parenting of her kids (a similar dynamic is at play in regards to Tank), I still fulfill quite a few of the traditional father roles when her kids are in the house. In addition, I take very seriously the idea that I am an enlightened, 21st-century husband; I do my share of the housework and am no stranger to grocery shopping, laundry, dishes, cooking, and toilet scrubbing (in addition to some of the more traditionally male tasks such as trash and lawn-mowing).

What I'm going getting at is that I am a modern dad. I know that Modern Dads isn't anymore a proper depiction of its stated subject matter than the majority of other reality shows, but when thinking about the show and the general, overall depiction of dads on television I got annoyed about the fact I see that I don't really see anything like myself on TV. I know, I know... first-world problems -- especially since I am a white, heterosexual, upper middle class male. I don't have anything to really complain about. However, even though I know that everyone who truly matters to me sees what type of husband and dad I am, it would be nice to see some societal recognition that there are dads such as myself out there too.

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